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The 38th Caligari Film Prize will be awarded to Selma Doborac, a filmmaker born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and living Vienna, Austria, for her documentary fiction hybrid DE FACTO (AT/DE 2023, 130 min) from the programme of the 53rd Berlinale Forum.

Since 1986, the prize, donated by the German Association of Municipal and Cultural Cinemas together with Filmdienst, has honoured a stylistically and thematically innovative film from the programme of the Berlinale Forum, thus highlighting the special significance of this section of the Berlin International Film Festival for cultural cinema work in this country.

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The award is endowed with 4,000 euros, half of which goes to the prize-winner, while the other half is used for promotional measures to support cinema distribution throughout Germany after the festival. The jury, consisting of Borjana Gaković (Sinema Transtopia Berlin), Janna Schmidt (CITY 46, Municipal Cinema Bremen e.V.) and Silvia Bahl (filmdienst.de, media partner), provided the following jury statement:

"Two characters appear in a minimalist, chilly setting. Their verbal remarks form a drastic speech directed at a counterpart who remains invisible and mute. From the first uttered sentence, a maelstrom develops into the hard-to-bear reality of human cruelty. The two men were significantly involved in crimes against humanity and now give an uninhibited account of their actions and their motives. The uncanny ordinariness of their formulations is repeatedly intermingled with terms that open up a horizon of historical references. DE FACTO does not simply present two perpetrators, but offers a scenic reflection on perpetration and the socio-psychological dimensions of mass violence. The dramatis personae are not individuals but art figures to be read, formed from a multitude of condensed and interwoven testimonies of documented genocidal crimes. With incredible force, the film makes the afterlife of violence as tangible as its threatening topicality only through the spoken word and its embodiment. Selma Doborac has succeeded in making an extraordinary and highly intense film that, like hardly any other before it, makes us think philosophically about destructive (group) dynamics and the inhuman in human beings. DE FACTO intervenes in our tendency to repress the unpleasant but necessary confrontation with mass violence. It enables a new form of artistic witnessing that also challenges our belief in justice."

The award-winning film had its world premiere on February 18 at 13:30 at Arsenal Cinema during the 53rd Berlinale Forum and was screened a second time with an extended Q&A afterwards on February 22 at silent green Kulturquartier. On February 24, the film will be shown again at Arsenal Cinema at 20:00 as well as after the Caligari Awards Ceremony at silent green Kulturquartier. The last Berlinale Forum screening of DE FACTO will take place on Saturday, February 25, at 13:30 at Delphi Filmpalast.


Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur